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Full text of "A history of Persia"

AGGRESSION ON AFGHANISTAN      435
besieging Herat, it was decided that Great Britain should
herself make war upon Dost Mohamed, and this was the
origin of the First Afghan War, which has been justly
censured more than any other waged by Great Britain
in Asia.
The plan finally adopted was to march to Herat and
raise the siege, to drive Dost Mohamed from Kabul and
to put Shah Shuja in his place. The policy of driving
Persia from Herat was sound, but from a military point
of view the expedition, as originally planned, was almost
beyond the resources of the British army in India. The
centre where the army assembled was Karnal, and the
distance from this frontier cantonment to Kandahar was
eleven hundred miles. From Kandahar to Herat was
four hundred more. The British force, only twenty
thousand strong and encumbered with thousands of
followers, would therefore have had to march the
enormous distance of fifteen hundred miles through a
poor, dry, and possibly hostile country and tthen meet an
enemy not perhaps very formidable in himself, but
possibly strengthened by Russian officers and money, if
not by Russian regiments. When the losses through
hardships, the posting of garrisons at strategical points, and
the probability of attacks by the Afghans are all considered,
this expedition, it must be confessed, was difficult to carry
out from the military point of view, and might well have
ended in disaster. Fortunately, before it started news
reached India that Mohamed Shah had been baffled before
Herat and had marched back to Persia. It might have
been thought that with the removal of this really serious
menace the necessity for engaging a British army in
Afghanistan had passed away.
It was, however, decided that Dost Mohamed, repre-
senting the Barakzai dynasty, must be driven out of
Afghanistan and Shah Shuja, of the Sadozai family, set
up in his place, on the alleged ground that Dost
Mohamed's hostility threatened the peace of India, and
this in the absence of any extreme necessity and without
consulting the Afghans themselves. As long as Mohamed
Shah was besieging Herat there were strong reasons for